Listen Imagine Compose

young composers music education listen imagine compose

London CPD course, 5 November

A short CPD course based in London that draws on the findings of Listen Imagine Compose is now available with limited places, through Teach Through Music. It reflects on what composing with young people entails, exploring and developing creative and pedagogic strategies for teaching composing.

During this short course you will develop an existing scheme of work and deliver it in the form of an action research project with support from the short course team and your Fellow. The London CPD day for Listen Imagine Compose begins 5 November, with limited places av.

Listen Imagine Compose report launched

Sound and Music, Birmimgham Contemporary Music Group and Birmingham City University have announced the publication of a new report detailing ways that every school can support young people learn to ‘Listen, Imagine, Compose’.  The report can be downloaded here and the executive summary here.

The Listen Imagine Compose (LIC) report, written by Professor Martin Fautley of Birmingham City University, is based on six action research projects initiated by Sound and Music and BCMG, designed to investigate how composing is taught and learned.  The work involved composers, musicians, secondary music teachers, researchers, as well as music education organisations and was supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. 

The project looked at six key research questions. These ranged from examining strategies for creative learning in music, to ways of evaluating pupil’s work, the role of listening, and on the importance of introducing students to music they did not know. The project also studied how expert performers and composers can best be used and how ICT can be used creatively in composing and performing.

Listen Imagine Compose report presents four key headline findings:

Teachers and composers have different skills and can learn from each other: When they collaborate with composers teachers change the way they present material, whilst composers also develop their skills as educators.  As a result of Listen Imagine Compose resources have been developed for both teachers and composers in order to enhance their approach when working alone.

Composing is a process that is also developmental: Pupils progress when composing on a regular basis.  To be successful teachers should consider organising more in-depth composing projects that take place over a longer time-period.  Whilst final performances may have a role they should not become the sole focus of a project as this can skew learning.

Composing entails higher order thinking skills: There is now clear evidence showing the ways in which learning to compose develops higher order thinking skills. These are essential for pupils’ cognitive development and are transferable across the curriculum, into the workforce and are a “skill for life” valued highly by the senior management of schools. 

Exploring unfamiliar and challenging music is vital: The Listen Imagine Compose report concurs with Ofsted’s statement in its November 2013 report that “performance and enjoyment are not enough”.  The Listen Imagine Compose report urges teachers: “Do not shy away from challenging music: Pupils might know what they like, but they also like what they know.  If they do not know it, they cannot like it – yet!”

The Listen Imagine Compose report marks the end of the research project but it is, in reality, the beginning of a new phase, in which the partners in the project are planning to share the key learning and recommendations that have been made. 

The Listen Imagine Compose team comprises:

Music education researchers: Pam Burnard and John Finney (Cambridge University), Pauline Adams (Institute of Education), Jonathan Savage (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Martin Fautley (Birmingham City University).

Composers: Kerry Andrew, Duncan Chapman, David Horne, Tim Steiner, Fraser Trainer and Jackie Walduck.

Teachers: Lizzie Hastings (Sir John Lawes School, Harpenden), Nick Heppel (King Edward VI, Birmingham), Jenetta Hirst (Hamstead Hall, Birmingham), Paul Jones (St Marylebone School, London), Bex Lewis (Parkside Federation, Cambridge) and Phil Kennedy (Fallibroome Academy, Macclesfield).

Critical Friends: Robert Bunting (ex-music adviser for Birmingham City Council), Bruce Cole (Chief Examiner, Edexel), Kevin Rogers (Hampshire County Music Service), Alison Cox (Purcell School of Music) and David Ashworth (consultant for website).

Steering group: Martin Fautley, Robert Bunting, Nancy Evans, Judith Robinson


Please contact Judith Robinson at Sound and Music if you wish to be kept informed about Listen Imagine Compose as it enters its next phase.

Event Date

5 November 2014

London CPD day, free tickets

Developed by

Sound and Music in partnership with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Birmingham City University

BCMG logo

BCU logo  

Funded by

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation